The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has welcomed the news that Alphabet’s Google is to a make a further $1 billion (£790m) investment to build a new data centre, just north of London.

Google revealed the mammoth investment in a blog post by Debbie Weinstein, VP of Google and MD of Google UK & Ireland.

“As more people tap into the opportunities created by the country’s digital economy and we unlock new ways for AI-powered technologies to boost productivity, fuel creativity, improve health outcomes and unlock scientific discoveries, it’s vital that we invest in the technical infrastructure needed to support innovation and tech-led growth,” wrote Weinstein.

Google Waltham Cross Data Centre Illustration.
Image credit Google

Waltham Cross data centre

Weinstein said in order to meet demand, Google is “investing $1 billion in a new UK data centre in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire.”

The data centre will constructed on a 33-acre site acquired by Google back in 2020. The town of Waltham Cross is located roughly 15 miles of London.

Google said the new facility will create construction and technical jobs for the local community, and once complete, “will bring crucial compute capacity to businesses across the UK, supporting AI innovation and helping to ensure reliable digital services to Google Cloud customers and Google users in the UK and abroad.”

Google Waltham Cross Data Centre Illustration.
Image credit Google

Google highlighted its goal to run all of its data centres and campuses on carbon-free energy (CFE), every hour of every day by 2030.

In support of this goal, in 2022 Google announced a power purchase agreement with ENGIE for offshore wind energy generated by the Moray West wind farm in Scotland. It said this agreement will add 100 MW of energy to the grid, and put Google’s UK operations on track to operate at or near 90 percent carbon-free energy in 2025.

Google also said it is “exploring new and innovative ways to use the heat generated by data centres, and this new facility will also have provisions for off-site heat recovery,” which could be potentially used to heat nearby homes and businesses.

Google Waltham Cross Data Centre Illustration.
Image credit Google

The data centre is also set to deploy an air-based cooling system.

UK presence

“Today’s investment in our Waltham Cross data centre is the latest in a series of investments that support Brits and the wider economy at large and is further evidence of Google’s continued commitment to the UK – a key country for our business and a pioneering world leader in AI, technology and science,” wrote Weinstein.

Google already employs over 7,000 people in the UK, and in 2022 made a $1 billion purchase of a central London (Saint Giles) office building, close to Covent Garden.

Google Central Saint Giles

In addition, Google has a 1 million sq ft. development in the King’s Cross area, where it continues to construct a new office and where its AI company DeepMind is also based.

Google has also in recent years expanded in the United States in a number of locations.

It came after Google in 2021 signalled its real-estate intentions in March 2021, when it pledged to spend $7 billion on office space and data centres across the United States.

Government reaction

The news that Google is to invest $1 billion in the UK was welcomed by the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The Prime Minister said it was “huge vote of confidence in the UK as the largest tech economy in Europe, bringing with it good jobs and the infrastructure needed to support British businesses.”

It should be remembered that Google is not the only tech giant making large investments in the UK.

In November Microsoft announced it was more than doubling its data centre footprint in the UK, and would invest 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) into the UK over three years, including in growing its data centre capacity, to underpin future AI services.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

Recent Posts

China Tells Telecom Carriers To Phase Out Foreign Chips – Report

Tit-for-tat. Another blow for Intel and AMD in China, after Beijing orders telecom carriers to…

1 day ago

Sam Bankman-Fried Appeals FTX Fraud Sentence Of 25 Years

Disgraced crypto billionaire and former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried appeals 25 prison sentence for masterminding…

1 day ago

UK Regulator Flags Competition Risks Of AI Foundation Models

British competition regulator has “real concerns” regarding AI foundation models controlled by small number of…

1 day ago

Micron Notes DRAM Supply Hit After Taiwan Earthquake

Concerns realised. Memory maker Micron admits hit to DRAM supply following Taiwan's biggest earthquake in…

2 days ago

US Senator Hints At TikTok Divestiture Deadline Extension

China's ByteDance may be given up to a year to divest itself of TikTok, used…

2 days ago